Author: Jeff Banks

AGM Deferral Notice

It had been anticipated that we would be writing to you this week with all the documentation for our Annual General Meeting (AGM) as required under our constitution. A key element of the AGM is to review the historic financial performance of the club and provide an outline of our finances over the coming year . We are not required to have a formal audit, but our Accountants, Hargreaves and Wood, provide members with an independent assessment of our statutory accounts for 2019/20 and comment on the club’s financial prospects for 2020/21.

 

As you all will be aware Football finds itself in very uncertain times at present with significant threat to the 2020/21 season given the ongoing impact of COVID-19. This has been further compounded following the recent decision by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to retain our elite classification, preventing the admittance of spectators, and this has created significant uncertainty over the financial modelling for the coming year.

 

At present the Club is awaiting details of the financial support we understand that central government is prepared to provide to enable us to play our matches behind closed doors. Once we have these details we will be able to judge whether this is sufficient to cover the resulting funding shortfall (i.e. gate receipts, season tickets, hospitality, sponsorship, etc.). The Board and our Accountants feel that these things need to be finalised before we can effectively brief members about the financial position and our plans for the season ahead.

 

As a Board we believe that the financial sustainability of the Football Club Is a fundamental cornerstone of the AGM process and as such it would be inappropriate to hold the meeting until such a time the club and our accountants have the necessary details and can provide an informed narrative. As such the decision has been made to postpone the AGM meeting until Thursday 12th November at 19:30, which will be facilitated via the Zoom platform to comply with social distancing measures. The documentation for the AGM, including the financial report will be sent out at least two weeks in advance of the AGM.”

 

City Fans United – Informal Zoom Meeting TO BE RESCHEDULED

UPDATE – The informal online zoom meeting that was initially rescheduled for Thursday 17th September will be rescheduled due a number of changing factors around the forthcoming season. The board wish to ensure that they have correct information to answer your questions in what is an ever changing environment right now as far as the upcoming season is concerned. Please accept our apologies for the late change of plan. The zoom link will be posted here in due course, and a separate communication to CFU members on email will follow over the next couple of days once we have a new date for the meeting.

 

It’s been a while since we sent an update to members, so we thought it about right to publish an update on the CFU website, with regards to events taking place recently and due to take place in the near future.

 

As far as City Fans United’s next meeting is concerned, we will be having an online zoom meeting on DATE TBC (7.30pm start), where the meeting will be an informal one, so please sign up to Zoom if not already done so and we’ll send through the link for that in our next update, to enable you to take part in the meeting.

 

We hope that you can join us online on the night given the fact that we’re unable to have any fans attending inside the Blues Bar that evening – we’d also like to invite any questions you have for that meeting. Please email jeff.banks@chesterfc.com with any questions you may have for the meeting, so that we can pass on to the relevant person.

 

We look forward to seeing you via the Zoom meeting online, and will update on the date once this has been set by the board. Thank you for your continued support of Chester FC.

 

 

CFU Board Summary – July 2020

Summary of Board meeting held on Monday 20th July 2020 at 7.30pm by virtual conference.

 

Present:- Andy Morris, David Williams, Kieron Shiel, Paul Bodman, Adam Langan, Chris Robertson, Jeff Banks, Mike Day and Mark Jones. In attendance:- Nick Phillipson, Chris Robson and Jim Green

 

Chairman stated that the playoffs for the Club were now finished and we had made a profit (money coming in from central pay, 50% streaming income and money through crowd funder). It was proposed that the money went to the “Boost the Budget” scheme which was agreed by the Board.

 

Nick Phillipson stated that he and Paul Bodman had been looking at the catering facilities for the Club and had decided that it should be put out to tender once the contract with Dougherty & Allen came to an end. Dougherty & Allen had been told that the catering would be going out to tender and that they would need to apply.

 

The Club is in the process of gathering in any tenders and will report back to the Board.

 

The Board was still in dialogue with Stuart Murphy regarding his association with the Club.

 

Mark Jones informed the Board where the Club stood regarding COVID and getting the Club up and running for the new season. We would have to put in a great deal of work to make it possible for members to attend matches with social distance guidelines in place.

 

Online ticketing was the way to go, so the Club would know before the match who would be attending and could make the grounds safe for supporters.

 

Paul Bodman mentioned that the Club had received many compliments from parents regarding the “Young Drivers’ Course” which was being held on the car park. The scheme had been so successful that the gentleman running it asked whether he could use our car park as his permanent base. Provided it did not clash with any home game fixtures and we were compliant with COVID guidelines, there was no reason not to allow the company to use our car park, as we were getting a substantial income from it.

 

Kieron Shiel stated that he had been in communication with volunteers during the closure of the Club and was looking into re-opening the office. This could only be done when all safeguards had been put in place for them to return safely.

 

Jim Green stated that the King George Development was still ongoing and contractors had been appointed. Has put in a request for a donation. Mike Vickers has now replaced David Evans as Chairman of the Trust.

 

Jeff Banks asked the Board to send their thanks to the players for how well they had played in the play offs.

 

Board Update – 22nd June

Chester FC wishes to update City Fans United members and supporters in relation to the National League North play-offs.

 

On Friday 19th June, our Club and the other 11 to have qualified for the National League North and South play-offs took part in a conference call with the National League and The FA.

 

We are sure supporters will understand this is a complex situation for both the clubs and the league given the need for Covid-19 testing, footballing considerations as player registrations expired in May and the logistical arrangements of staging matches safely.

 

The requirements for competing in the play-offs were set out to clubs for the first time on Friday and as a board we have spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend reviewing this information and working through the challenges and potential solutions.

 

While the Club took the decision to furlough the playing squad and coaching staff in preparation for this eventuality, there are still a number of practical and financial considerations to be taken into account, including but not limited to:

 

  • The Club is required to develop a thorough Covid risk assessment and stadium management plan in the unlikely event we are required to host a game in the play-offs. This plan includes the appointment of a Covid Officer and Medical Officer and must be approved by both the Safety Advisory Group and the National League.
  • The Club must develop a viable Covid testing process for all players and coaching staff in order to participate in the play-offs. These tests must meet clinical testing standards and the provider must be certified and approved by the National League Medical Officer. As testing is required weekly for a minimum of a three week period, this is a significant financial cost for clubs.
  • We continue to work with the management team around the development of Covid compliant training sessions in line with FA and Government guidance. This includes the use of small groups, non-contact training at stage one, regular sterilisation of equipment and sessions of limited duration held at a suitable venue.
  • The Club has held provisional conversations with the playing squad and coaching staff regarding the contractual wage and bonus structures which would ordinarily be in place for the play-offs. This will enable the Club to reach a clear understanding of the costs and potential liabilities of taking part. Although the players have been undertaking personal training regimes at home, participation in the play-offs will require them to return from furlough leave for training and matches which has potential cost implications for the Club.
  • We continue to engage with the National League regarding several outstanding queries around player registration including the use of loan players, in particular those players whose contracts have expired and those whose loan spells have come to an end, to ensure these players will be available should clubs participate.

 

The Board is continuing to work tirelessly on this matter with relevant stakeholders and wishes to reiterate to supporters our desire to uphold the integrity of the competition and to ensure the players, management and fans, have the opportunity to finish the 2019/20 season on the pitch. However, we cannot risk the financial security of the Club and this will be paramount to our decision.

 

We understand this is an emotive issue and we are committed to being open and transparent with members and supporters and will provide further updates as soon as we are able to.

 

Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding.

CFU Board Summary – March 2020

Summary of CFU Board Meeting held on 30th March 2020 by virtual conference at 7.30pm.

Present:- Andy Morris (Chair), Jeff Banks, Chris Robertson, Kieron Shiel, Mike Day, David Williams, Mark Jones.

In Attendance:- Paul McDermott, Nick Phillipson and Christine Robson

 

Due to the Coronavirus epidemic, the football club had been closed down until further notice and the meeting was held by virtual conference. The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17th February 2020 had been read and approved as being a correct record.

 

The Board were informed by Andy Morris that David Harrington-Wright had tendered his resignation as Chairman, due to personal reasons and also from being actively involved on the Board. The Board, through Andy, had thanked David for all his hard work and commitment to the Club.

 

Chris Robertson had circulated a paper regarding the situation for the Club due to the COVID 19. The Government had announced some initiatives which would help the Club, especially the Job Retention Scheme and the Grant of £25,000. Decision had been made to “furlough” all staff including the players and the managers. Chris also mentioned about some invoices that were still outstanding which would be chased. The Club can survive the crisis provided that no money is spent whilst the Club is in lockdown.

 

Andy Morris stated that he was waiting for news from the NL to see what the decision would be regarding playing the season out. Nick Philipson stated that the contract for D/A would be due up for renewal at the end of the season. Whilst in lockdown there was not much that the Club could do as due diligence would have to be adhered to and make sure any quotes were sustainable.

 

Jeff Banks mentioned that the E-Match which took place on 21st March 2020 had been a huge success and raised £2,100. A campaign over the weekend of 28/29 March 2020 for Renewal of Membership had achieved £1,800.

 

Next Meeting was provisionally booked for 27th April 2020, depending on circumstances of the lockdown.

CFU Board Update

 

Chester FC can provide a further update to supporters and City Fans United members in relation to the club’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertain footballing landscape.

 

The human cost of the crisis has been devastating and thoughts of everyone at the club are with those who have suffered loss. The pandemic will have a lasting impact for us all and the challenges facing football clubs may seem inconsequential in comparison, but as a Board we must focus on our responsibilities as your elected representatives.

 

Without question, the coronavirus outbreak poses a significant threat to football clubs at all levels and indeed the game as a whole.

 

The Board is committed to safeguarding the football club and ensuring it remains financially sustainable so we can overcome these challenges together and prepare for the safe return of football. This commitment means the Board must be prepared to make difficult but necessary decisions if required.

 

Complicating the current situation is the continued uncertainty over how the 2019/20 campaign will be concluded and the prospect of a potential play-off campaign. We are sure supporters will appreciate that while this remains a possibility, it has a bearing on the Board’s decisions and actions. To this end, we have decided it is not appropriate to publish a retained list until the 2019/20 season has been decided.

 

We do not know when football will resume, but it is clear that for clubs such as ours playing behind closed doors is neither practical nor financially sustainable. When crowds can return, it is likely social distancing measures will limit attendances and in turn reduce matchday income, the biggest source of revenue for most clubs.

 

The Board’s immediate focus has been on stabilising the club following the suspension of the season and initial loss of income, but we are now developing longer term plans to ensure we are prepared for whatever happens in the next 12 months and beyond. This is a complex process as it includes planning for several different scenarios linked to when football might return with budgets for each of them.

 

We understand some fans may be worried about the future or concerned about the impact of Stuart Murphy’s decision to end his association with the Club, but we want to assure you that we can come through this period together and emerge in a position to continue being a competitive force on the pitch.

 

Football finances at our level will look very different in the future and, while we must navigate the immediate challenges over the next 12 months, we believe this will ultimately be to the advantage of those clubs who operate sustainably.

 

As a club we are in a fortunate position: we have strong relationships with key stakeholders and sponsors; and we have a fan base filled with passion and enthusiasm that provides unwavering support.

 

It is a reality of supporter ownership that financial contributions from fans are vital and every penny the club receives is appreciated and benefits our club.

 

In the next week we will be launching a new crowdfunding scheme to help the first team budget for the 2020/21 season. We have listened to members and observed what other clubs have done, and we know many fans wish to help the managers deliver what everyone wants: an exciting, successful and talented team that makes supporters proud. If you are able to, this is your opportunity to pledge or donate to supplement the playing budget and make a massive difference to our club’s preparations for the new season.

 

Please find below an update on the most recent steps the Board has taken in an effort to navigate through this difficult period:

  • We continue to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the majority of club staff remain on furlough leave with some rotation as operations dictate. Given the play-offs remain a possibility; we have re-engaged most of the first team squad on short-term contracts until 27th June. Furloughed employees will now receive 80% of their salaries up to a maximum of £2500 per month and the Board wishes to thank the players, non-playing and non-football staff for their agreement to ensure we can preserve the club’s resources and protect roles. The CJRS has been extended until the end of October although government support will be tapered and we will continue to review our use of the scheme.
  • We have received a Coronavirus Business Support Grant (£25,000) through Flintshire County Council and continue to take steps to manage ongoing running costs and annual outgoings such as utilities and insurances. We are grateful to those companies who have agreed payment holidays and payment plans.
  • We continue to engage with the National League and fellow member clubs regarding the pandemic’s impact on the game, the options for completing the 2019/20 season and arrangements for the 2020/21 campaign and safe return of football.
  • We are hugely grateful to our season ticket holders who waived the offer of a partial refund following the cancellation of the 2019/20 campaign. The Board is acutely aware of the impact of the crisis on the economy and processed a small number of refund requests; however this represented less than 2.5% of the total potential liabilities. Thank you for your incredible support.
  • The Board has been strengthened with the co-option of Adam Langan until the AGM later this year. Adam is a lifelong supporter of the Blues and serves as a councillor for Newton and Hoole on Cheshire West & Chester Council.
  • We have received more than 1300 responses to the initial consultation on the draft strategic plan for Chester FC produced last month. The depth and volume of feedback received is hugely valuable and this will now be reviewed in detail to further develop the plan in preparation for the next phase of the consultation.
  • The Community Trust has maintained its work in the local area to assist vulnerable supporters and residents during the pandemic, including partnership working with other local charities and agencies to collect prescriptions and delivering hot meals.

 

As stated above, the Fundraising Working Group has been developing a new crowdfunder scheme to boost the first team budget for next season. It is important this scheme is properly developed to ensure it achieves its purpose.

 

The group has been strengthened with several new members and has been meeting regularly to explore other ways to raise funds to help the club remain sustainable while there is no football being played.

 

The pandemic is having a very real impact on people’s finances and we know some of our supporters will be struggling. Whatever financial assistance you can give our club really does help and this is not something we take for granted. If you have ideas or suggestions for fundraising, please email david.williams@chesterfc.com.

 

In the past fortnight groundsman Mike Barrow has been able to start the annual pitch renovations using the £4000 raised through the virtual matchdays. Mike has asked us to express his sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed.

 

Last month we launched the first retro Chester City shirt last month and received almost 300 pre-orders, raising a further £4000 for our club. Claim Your Turf has brought in more than £1200 in a few days and the club shop volunteers are running a flash sale and have also launched branded face masks, bringing in further valuable funds. Fundraising is a team effort and you are the key components of that team so thank you again to everyone who has donated.

 

CFU Membership

CFU memberships for 2019/20 expired on 31st May so if you haven’t yet renewed or wish to sign up as a new member, now is the perfect time. The cost to be an owner of our club remains just £12 per year and you can renew online at www.cityfansunited.com/join-city-fans-united. We are delighted the number of members paying via Direct Debit continues to grow as this can significantly increase revenue for our club and makes future renewals much simpler. To set up a Direct Debit, email nick.phillipson@chesterfc.com.

 

Claim Your Turf

From as little as £25 you can sponsor a piece of the hallowed turf at the Deva Stadium for the 2020/21 season and raise funds for the club’s Squadbuilder campaign. Claim Your Turf allows supporters or local businesses to have their name, photograph, message or logo printed in the matchday programme for each home league fixture, on the Chester FC website and on the wall of the Blues Bar at the end of the season. You’ll also be invited to a special end of season function. Email fundraising@chesterfc.com to Claim Your Turf.

 

Season Tickets
We have received a number of requests for season ticket renewals and sales. Your support is greatly appreciated and this is of course a key income stream for the club. However, we believe the sensible approach is to wait until we have some clarity about football’s return including the league structure, season length, number of fixtures and potential crowds, before starting season ticket sales. Rest assured, as soon as we have received the appropriate level of information we will update supporters.

 

Given the pace at which this unprecedented situation continues to develop, the Board remains in constant dialogue and is holding virtual meetings at least once a week, as well as having regular discussions with key partners and stakeholders, including MBNA and the council.

 

We will endeavour to provide further updates to members and supporters as regularly as possible and thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding.

 

Keep safe and we look forward to seeing you back at our home soon.

 

Our City, Our Community, Our Club

The Board of City Fans United

John Danby achieves Hall of Fame status

City Fans United are delighted to learn that former Chester City and Chester FC goalkeeper, John Danby, has become the latest inductee in to the Hall of Fame.

 

The Chester Former Players Association, who present nominations for the Hall of Fame to the club board, released the news that Danby, who featured in Chester City’s later years and the reformed Chester FC’s early years, had been granted the accolade that is shared by the likes of the late Gary Talbot, Daryl Clare, Stuart Rimmer, and George Horan to name but a few.

 

The release reads, “Chester’s record-breaking goalkeeper John Danby, a player whose career with the Blues stretched over both versions of the football club, is to join the club’s Hall of Fame.

 

Danby was originally signed by Mark Wright for Chester City from Kidderminster Harriers in 2006, making 165 league appearances before the club folded in 2010. He was ever-present in two of those campaigns, as well as the ill-fated 2009-10 season, including Chester City’s final match, against Ebbsfleet in February 2010. Such was his consistency that he missed only five league games in those four seasons, breaking Mike Metcalf’s 40-year-old record for the most consecutive appearances with 128 and extending that tally to 133. He was voted Player of the Season in 2006-07.

 

He signed for Eastwood Town after the demise of the original club but 18 months later answered the call from Neil Young to return to the Deva Stadium for the second campaign of the newly-formed Chester FC. He stepped into a team which had just won the EvoStik North in its first season and played a major part in the club’s next two consecutive championships, the EvoStik Premier in 2012 and the Conference North in 2013. He set another club record, for the most consecutive clean sheets held for over 30 years by Grenville Millington, going eight games without conceding a goal in the 2011-12 season. That achievement helped him win the non-league Goalkeeper of the Year award.

 

Having played nearly 300 games for both versions of the club, Danby left Chester in the summer of 2014 when the club’s daytime training schedule meant he couldn’t combine it with his other career as a personal trainer. He spent last season with Flint Town United.

 

Chair of the Former Players Association Alan Tarbuck said: ‘John has a fantastic record at Chester – it isn’t just the number of games, it’s the quality of his performances as well. He is an outstanding goalkeeper and a great professional, and we were lucky to have him representing Chester. He played a big part in the new venture of Chester FC and I would like to congratulate him, on behalf of all the former players, on being elected to the Hall of Fame.’

The formal presentation to John, which would normally take place on the pitch at a home game, will inevitably have to wait until football resumes.”

 

City Fans United would like to congratulate John on this award, and look forward to seeing him receive the official recognition on the pitch at the Deva Stadium in the near future.

 

You can read more about the Chester Former Players Association here

 

CFU Membership Renewals

 

It’s that time again for City Fans United memberships to be renewed as the current annual membership period starts on Monday 1st June. If you have already renewed your membership for the 2020-21 membership period (1st June 2020-31st May 2021) then we thank you for doing so, and for your continued support. Members already on a direct debit will see their membership auto renew.

 

To renew, or sign up for the first time please follow the instructions below:

 

Direct Debit

Now is a great time to set up a Direct Debit to ensure that your membership auto-renews in the future. You will also be helping the club at the same time with extra revenue that it needs given the current circumstances.

 

We will shortly be rolling out an incentive programme which is tailored to those contributing monthly amounts on Direct Debit, from £5 per month upwards. Details to follow on this scheme shortly but you can get ahead of the game and set the Direct Debit up straight away.

 

To set up a monthly Direct Debit for your CFU membership, please email nick.phillipson@chesterfc.com who will then be able to arrange this easily with you.

 

Your CFU membership will then continue to renew on the 1st June each year going forward making it extremely simple to manage.

 

Additional contributions on top of the annual £12 fee will be classed as donations to City Fans United.

 

You can of course join or renew your membership online with the flat £12 annual membership fee, via our online link below:

Click here to Log In and Renew Online

 

We are continuing to process CFU membership renewals or new membership application forms that have been posted to the club, but please bear in mind we have a small number of volunteers processing these at present and appreciate your patience in dealing with those.

Membership cards will be produced in due course.

 

Thank you once again for your support and understanding at this difficult time for everyone, and we look forward to a point when we can once again cheer on The Blues at the Deva Stadium.

 

Jeff Banks

Director of Membership & Fan Engagement

 

CFU Board Update

The board of City Fans United have strengthened their ranks with a new addition.

 

We would like to welcome Adam Langan, who has been co-opted to the board until the AGM later this year.

 

On joining the board, Adam said, “I am honoured and delighted to be joining the board in such a pivotal time for our club, I am excited to offer my skills to benefit the club I’ve supported for 20+years. I’m extremely excited to solidify the links between the council and the club and am extremely passionate about improving the stadiums facilities and the clubs infrastructure as these are the long term assets that if improved will enable us to compete at a higher level.”

 

CFU Chairman Andrew Morris, officially welcomed Adam to the board, “On behalf of the CFU board I am delighted to welcome Adam following his co-option to the board this week. Adam brings with him a range of skills and experience developed through his time working in local politics as well as experience and skills in community engagement which will be vital as the Club moves forward.”

 

In 2020 there have been some movements on the board, with Nick Phillipson joining as an Non-Executive Director, effectively assuming the role of Richard Lynes who stood down in December, and of course David Harrington-Wright stepped down as Chairman earlier this year.

 

 

CFU Strategic Plan Consultation

City Fans United has produced a draft strategic plan setting out a five-year vision for Chester FC and is now asking members and supporters for their views to help shape the final plan.

 

An initial consultation launches today giving fans and stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback and tell us what matters to you.

 

The consultation, which runs until Monday 1st June, includes an online survey and a series of interactive virtual workshops.

 

CFU Strategic Plan Consultation

 

Developed in collaboration with Chester FC Community Trust, the draft plan aims to provide a blueprint for the future and establish the Club as a successful, sustainable force for the long-term.

 

It is based upon six strategic pillars which will enable the Club to achieve its ambitions: Football Excellence; Membership & Fan Engagement; Better Facilities; People & Culture; Finance & Governance; and Community.

 

Andrew Morris, City Fans United Chairman, said: “The final strategic plan will reflect our shared vision and ambitions for the Club so the contribution of members and supporters is of vital importance.

“These are unprecedented times for football and all clubs are having to respond to overcome new challenges, but we believe our ownership model is an asset and means we are better placed than many to do this.

“Given the uncertainty about when football will resume, what it will look like when it does and whether crowds will be permitted, the Board has adopted a flexible business plan model which is an ongoing process.

“The strategic plan is a high level summary that will guide the Club for the next five years and enable us to move to the next level and realise the potential of the supporter-owned model.

“The plan must represent the aspirations of the membership so we are asking every supporter to take part in the consultation and tell us what is important to them.”

 

CFU Strategic Plan Consultation